Leave it to Dean to be able to put a positive spin on this whole thing. Sawyer wished he had his optimism.

“We’ll need to come up with a story,” Heath said, switching into business mode. “How you met, how you fell in love, how he proposed. All of that needs to be consistent whenever you talk to anyone.”

“Sawyer and I will work out the details,” Piper said. “We’ll keep it simple so we don’t get tripped up.”

“I have a couple of conditions, as well,” Heath said, raising two fingers in the air. “No one else can know the engagement isn’t real, including Piper’s mother.” He fixed his gaze on Sawyer. “That means you will not flirt with any other women. You will appear completely devoted to Piper at all times, but public displays of affection will be kept to a minimum. Second, when the time comes to call it off, you will break the engagement, not Piper.”

“Why does it matter who breaks it off?” Faith asked.

“Because if he does it, it makes Piper more sympathetic. We can’t have her come off like an insensitive heartbreaker. Sawyer’s much more appropriate for that role.”

Sawyer tried hard not to roll his eyes. “Make me the bad guy. I really don’t care.”

“Well,” Dean said, taking the napkin off his lap and setting it beside his half-eaten plate of food, “I guess all that’s left to say is congratulations.”

He stood up and walked around the table to give Piper a hug.

“Thank you, Dean,” Piper whispered.

“Marriage or no marriage, this baby makes you family,” he said. “And the Stratton family is a good one, I promise.”

Piper’s eyes watered. “Thank you.”

“I think it’s time everyone goes,” Heath said. “Piper and I have some things to discuss before we meet with the tour company and inform them we will only be signing on for a six-month tour. She also needs to call her mother and tell her the…news.”

Piper’s face paled. She had so many more people to answer to than Sawyer did. He stood and took her by the hand.

“It’s going to be okay. And in the end, you’ll have plenty of material for a great song about the jerk who broke off your engagement.”

She managed to crack a smile for the first time since he’d arrived. “That’s one way to look at it.”

Sawyer reached up and brushed her cheek with his thumb. She leaned into his touch.

Heath cleared his throat. “I believe I said we have things to do.”

Sawyer dropped his hand to his side. When the time came, it would not be difficult to convince the world they’d broken off their engagement because of her overbearing father.

“See you soon, Heath. Betcha can’t wait. Maybe I can start calling you Dad. Yes? No?”

Heath pointed at the door. Dean grabbed Sawyer by the elbow and guided him out into the hall.

“Let’s not poke the bear, okay?”

“I can’t believe you are okay with this,” Faith said to Dean as they entered the elevator.

“I don’t think anyone was really that interested in my opinion in the first place,” he said, showing his palms.

Sawyer rubbed his forehead. “Don’t be so hard on him. It’s not like he knew we were going to drop a bomb on him.”

“Well…” Faith cringed. “That’s not totally true.”

“I may have been informed last night,” Dean confessed.

“You promised me you wouldn’t tell him! What if Piper hadn’t been okay with you two coming to breakfast this morning?”

“This is how I know you aren’t ready to be married,” Faith said, stepping forward. “The first rule of a good marriage is don’t keep secrets. I think Heath is wrong to keep this from his wife. Honesty is the best and only policy. Lying by omission is still lying.”

Sawyer should have expected his sister wouldn’t be able to stay quiet all night. She and Dean had been through enough because of secrets and lies. It had been wrong of him to ask her to keep him out of the loop.

She was also right about him not being ready to get married. Hopefully he’d be able to pull off playing the doting fiancé. Everyone back home would be a tough sell.

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